Council calls in eco-experts to help improve sustainability

Cllr Lesley Macinnes  SNP Councillor for Liberton/Gilmerton  Transport and Environment Convener
Cllr Lesley Macinnes SNP Councillor for Liberton/Gilmerton Transport and Environment Convener
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The City of Edinburgh Council has called in eco-experts to help improve its sustainability as the authority pushes ahead with its ambition to become carbon neutral.

The authority will work with the Edinburgh Centre of Carbon Innovation (ECCI) to take a closer look and improve its sustainability performance.

The ECCI is part of the University of Edinburgh.

It hosts the Centre of Expertise on Climate Change - which supports Scottish Government with their climate change analysis and evidence. The ECCI will scrutinise the work the council is doing to tackle climate change.

Transport and environment convener Cllr Lesley Macinnes said: “It’s a clear recognition of the efforts being made across the council but inevitably this sort of report will be in a constant cycle of developing new goals and attainment.

“I welcome a development of an expert independent audit by Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation.

“I would also like to recognise the Scottish Government context which has built an encouragement of setting national targets and development of a suitable legislative environment and indeed often funding streams – specifically for the development of the Low Emission Zones.”

The council accepted an addendum to the policy report from the Greens, which called for closer investigation on sustainability, including efforts to deliver carbon-saving projects and tackling throwaway plastics. Cllr Macinnes added: “I think it accepts a shared desire to push forward on this agenda.

“It helps to further develop our onward journey and to highlight further useful structures to help us achieve just that.”

The Greens welcomed the independent scrutiny of the council’s environmental credentials.

The Edinburgh 2050 Vision points to an ambition to become carbon neutral through greater district heating, heat capture and micro-generation of energy, with new opportunities for renewable energy research, development and manufacture.

Cllr Steve Burgess said: “I welcome the recommendation to request an external audit by the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, who now coordinate the Sustainable Scotland network.

“With diminishing dedicated staff resources, how does the council most effectively coordinate and drive forward its work on sustainability and in particular move towards a zero carbon or carbon neutral Edinburgh?

“I recognise that there is work going on across the council including on energy, transport and waste.

“How can we ensure this work is joined-up and extend it so that the council can meet its targets and commitments - especially on transport where traffic reduction targets in the local transport strategy and unlikely to be hit at the moment?”

He added: “At present, our city is consuming about three times its fair share of global resources.

“As the UK Committee on Climate Change report says young people will be left to pick up the bill for climate change because politicians are dodging the issue.

“I hope the forthcoming audit and recommendations will point a more effective way forward for the council.”

In their report, council officers admitted the authority’s approach to improving sustainability could benefit from “more strategic coordination and focus” that reflects its ambition to be carbon neutral by 2050.

It added: “This includes by working better with the strong and vibrant wider environmental sector present in the city.”

Conservative transport spokesman, Cllr Nick Cook, said: “We welcome the fact that this will go to external audit and we wait with interest with what will come back to the Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee once someone has taken an independent look at how the council is performing and what it can do better.”

The findings by the ECCI will also form the basis for developing a new sustainability strategy for the city council, which is due to be published by 2020.